Sam looked up from the laptop, staring at the door to their motel room as if he could will Dean to appear. Of course that would be too helpful a 'psychic gift' for him to have, and so the door remained stubbornly closed. Letting out a sigh Sam looked back at the screen, although it was a waste of time as he hadn't really been seeing anything properly for the last hour. Closing the laptop down with a little more force than was necessary, he got up and looked out the window.

The parking lot was empty except for a few cars, including Dean's beloved Impala. Sam glanced at his watch and saw it was almost 1am. More than enough time for Dean to have finished his beer and made his way back to the motel. Hell, he could have crawled back on his hands and knees and still been there at least an hour ago.

Sam yawned and realised he wasn't going to be able to stay awake much longer. They were both tired, having worked two tough jobs in a row, and this was supposed to have been a chance to kick back and recharge their batteries before the next job. Sam hadn't even really objected when Dean had wanted to stay at the bar a little longer, knowing his brother had a different method of relaxing than he did, so he'd left him there happily nursing his third beer and flirting with the pretty young waitress who seemed quite happy about it. He'd only had one beer himself so he'd taken the car, knowing that it was only a 20 minute walk back to the motel. Dean had barely noticed, tossing him the keys while still keeping his full attention on – Hayley? Sam seemed to recall that was her name. He'd showered as soon as he got back, letting the hot water ease his aching neck muscles and not feeling remotely guilty about the fact Dean was gonna be taking a lukewarm shower when he eventually got back. In fact, as far as Sam was concerned that was payback for the dozens of times 'oldest gets to go first' had landed him with the type of shower Cisternan monks would have found a little harsh.

Of course now he was starting to get more than a little exasperated with his brother. Even assuming he'd got lucky with Hayley – and Sam was so not going there, thank you very much – the bar closed at 11pm so Dean should have been back long before now. Or at least called. That was the one rule they'd always stuck to, and one that made perfect sense given their lifestyle. John Winchester had never been that big on curfews, especially when both his sons had reached adulthood, but he'd always insisted on at least knowing where they were and what time they were likely to be back. And Dean had reinforced that rule with Sam ever since they'd been back on the road. Not that Sam minded. It was kind of reassuring, knowing someone cared if you were late back. Not that he was ever telling Dean that of course.

Dean for his part, despite being older, had always had the decency to stick to the rule himself and usually called Sam when he was staying out late, or all night in some cases. But tonight Sam hadn't heard from him since he'd left the bar and he had an uneasy feeling something wasn't right.

Yawning again he came to the decision that standing there at the window wasn't making his brother magically appear, so he went and laid down on one of the beds. Switching off the lamp, the room was plunged into darkness. Knowing it was childish but feeling slightly satisfied by the idea that Dean was almost definitely going to trip over something on his way in, Sam shut his eyes and, despite his worry, was asleep in minutes.

Dean cursed as he tried to get his key in the door without making too much noise. It would have helped if his hands weren't shaking so much or if he couldn't see five keyholes right now. Leaning his head against the door for a moment he took a deep breath and then winced as his ribs reminded him that wasn't a good idea right now.

"Shit!" he muttered under his breath. Sam was gonna be so pissed when he saw him.

Opening his eyes again and steadying himself, he finally managed to get the key in the lock and opened the door. The lights were out and he could see a lump in one of the beds that was obviously Sam. Closing the door quietly behind him, he headed for the bathroom. Of course he'd cleverly managed to leave his bag at the end of the other bed, right where he could trip over it. Which he dutifully did.

Ok, falling on your ass with bruised ribs and a concussion was so not a good idea. He'd write that down somewhere later. Just as soon as the stars he could see right now disappeared.

He was still on the floor, waiting for the room to stop spinning, when he heard Sam's voice.


Crap he thought. Just for once could Sam not have been in a deep sleep for a change?

"Dean, is that you?" came Sam's voice again, this time sounding more worried than he had before.

Dean tried to compose himself enough to reply.

"Yeah, Sammy, it's me. Go back to sleep." he said, his voice sounding rough even to his own ears.

"Are you on the floor?" said Sam, sounding confused and worried now. Seconds later the lamp came on and Dean blinked against the brightness. Great. Now he had shooting pains in his head from that as well. This night just kept getting better and better.

Sam had been woken by a thudding noise, followed by what sounded suspiciously like Dean grunting in pain. And now, even though Dean had answered him at last, his brother didn't sound quite right. In fact he sounded like he was hurt. Sitting up, he was in time to see Dean stagger up off the floor and head towards the bathroom.

"I just tripped over the bag Sam, it's fine." he said, sounding anything but.

Sam was used to his brother's evasive tactics though, and he was out of the bed before Dean could reach the bathroom door.

"Dean," he said reaching out to grab Dean's shoulder. He wasn't expecting Dean's hiss of pain or the way he whirled round, grabbing his shoulder.

"Damn it Sam!" he said. Sam just stared at him in shock though. Now Dean was facing him he could see the myriad of cuts and bruises on his face and the way he was cradling his ribs protectively with one arm.

"Jesus Dean! What the hell happened?" said Sam, reaching for his brother. Dean backed away though, trying to compose himself after the twin shocks of ending up on the floor and Sam grabbing his badly bruised shoulder.

"It's no big deal. Just had a disagreement with some guys, that's all." he said firmly.

"It's not 'no big deal' Dean! You look like you got hit by a truck for God's sake!"

"Well you'd know what that looked like, right Sammy?" said Dean, glaring at him.

As soon as the words left his mouth he instantly regretted them. Especially as the colour drained from Sam's face and he looked as if Dean had just punched him in the stomach.

"Look I'm sorry ok? It's been a bad night," said Dean softly. He meant it too. Although they'd never discussed the crash since the night it happened, Dean was aware that Sam had been conscious for most of it until they were rescued and he could imagine how awful that must have been.

Sam swallowed. He could see from the look on Dean's face that he hadn't meant it and had only been lashing out defensively, so he put aside the feelings Dean's comment had stirred up and nodded.

"Forget it. I still want to know what happened though – did you pick a fight with the entire bar?" he said.

Dean glared at him again. "Nice. Why do you assume it was my fault?" he said.

Sam sighed and scrubbed his hand over his face. Ok, this was not going well.

"I didn't mean to imply it was your fault Dean, I just wanna know how you went from having a quiet beer and flirting with the waitress to looking like you went ten rounds with Mohammed Ali," he said quietly.

Dean winced and looked away for a minute. He knew Sam meant well, but he really didn't want to talk about this right now.

"It was just a fight. Some guys didn't like the way I looked and decided to tell me about it. I was outnumbered – end of story."

Sam frowned. "How many of them were there?"

Dean shrugged and then bit back a groan as he remembered sudden movements were a bad idea right now.

"I don't know, I wasn't taking a head count," he said tiredly.

Sam was torn between wanting proper answers and wanting to make sure Dean was ok. In the end his protectiveness and brotherly concern overcame his need for answers.

"Why don't you go get cleaned up. We can talk about this later." he said.

Recognising the reprieve and taking whatever he could get right now, Dean turned round and went into the bathroom. Closing the door behind him he sat gingerly on the edge of the bath and let out a long sigh. He really did feel like crap right now. He could still see the disapproving look on the doctor's face as he refused to stay the night at the hospital. If it hadn't been for the fact he wasn't quite firing on all cylinders at the time he would never have ended up there in the first place. He'd had enough concussions and bruised ribs in his lifetime to know what they felt like. It was good of the bar owner to take him there in the first place, having found him laid out in the parking lot, but he really would rather have just gone straight to the motel. Instead he'd had to sit there for an hour just to be told something he already knew. And now, as if the night hadn't been fun enough, he had the wrath of Sam still to face.

It wasn't that he didn't appreciate Sam's concern, it was just he'd been on the receiving end of it far too often lately. He knew he hadn't exactly been handling recent events well, and that Sam was worried about him, but he couldn't help it. And knowing he was hurting Sam was just making it worse.

Damn, it really sucked to be him right now, he thought wearily.

Stripping off with the speed and grace of an old man, Dean showered quickly barely even noticing the fact the water was only lukewarm. He'd forgotten to grab his clothes before he went in – naturally, given his recent luck – so he had to go back into the main room in just a towel to get them. Sam looked up from where he was sitting on the bed waiting for him, and Dean heard his sharp intake of breath as he saw the bruises that covered most of Dean's chest and side. Sam was pretty sure one of them was boot-shaped and he felt anger rising inside him.

Deliberately ignoring Sam's shocked look, Dean reached into his bag for a fresh t-shirt and shorts and went back into the bathroom to get dressed. When he came out again, Sam said nothing but handed him a bottle of water and some pills. Dean contemplated refusing them but the throbbing pain in his head and ribs told his pride to shut up and move along, so he took them gratefully. Swallowing them quickly, he put the bottle on the table and sank down onto the bed. With his eyes closed and concentrating on willing the painkillers to take effect, he didn't hear Sam come over until he felt the blanket being pulled up over him. Opening his eyes, he gave his brother a tired glare.

"You even think of tucking me in Sam, and I will kick your ass." he said.

Sam snorted. "Yeah, cos you could kick anyone's ass right now," said Sam with a smirk, continuing to pull the blanket round Dean until he was properly covered.

Knowing Sam was right, Dean settled for a final glare before closing his eyes again. He did feel better now he was covered with the blanket, he must admit. No need to tell Sam that though.

Sam stood there for a moment, listening to Dean's breath even out. In the lamplight Dean looked pale and the bruises on his face stood out in stark contrast to that. Sam felt anger rising again that someone had done this to his brother.

Grabbing the clothes he'd been wearing earlier, Sam dressed quickly. Picking up the Impala's keys he scribbled a quick note for Dean, telling him he was getting some air, and left the room quietly.

A few minutes later he was back at the bar. He knew it was late and chances were no one would be there, but he had to do something. Making his way across the parking lot, he was surprised and pleased to see a light on inside. The door was locked, but he knocked and waited patiently. A few moments later a gruff sounding voice called out.

"Yeah? Who is it?"

Sam cleared his throat. "Ah, hi. I'm sorry to bother you at this hour, but I was wondering if I could have a word? It's about something that happened here earlier," he said.

There was a pause and then the sound of bolts being drawn back. Sam guessed he must have sounded trustworthy. The door opened a little and the owner of the voice stared hesitatingly at Sam for a second. Seemingly deciding Sam didn't look like an axe murdering psycho, he pulled the door back further.

"You'd better come in," he said.

"Thanks," said Sam.

Waiting as the guy - who Sam was assuming was the owner - locked the door behind him, Sam looked around. There was no sign of broken glass or tables so he guessed the fight must have happened outside.

"So, what can I do for you?" said the owner, looking at him guardedly.

"There was a fight here earlier – or outside at least. I'm just trying to find out what happened, if you know," said Sam earnestly.

The guy frowned at him. "What's it to you?" he said.

"Well, my brother was involved. He's in pretty bad shape and I'd really like to know how he ended up like that," said Sam.

"You mean Dean's your brother – you're Sam?" said the guy, raising his eyebrows.

It was Sam's turn to raise his eyebrows. "How did you know my name?"

"Cos your brother said you were gonna be wondering where he'd got to when we were at the hospital," said the guy.

"Hospital?" said Sam with alarm and the man shook his head.

"Don't worry, it was nothing serious. Least that's what your brother said anyway. I found him just coming round out back and I thought it best he get himself checked out as he seemed pretty groggy, so I drove him down to the hospital. He wasn't too keen on that mind." he said with a chuckle. "Anyway, doc checked him out and your brother said they told him it was just some bruises and a mild concussion. He was pretty keen to get back to you so I dropped him off at your motel and came back here to finish locking up. I'm Pete by the way." he said, offering Sam his hand.

Sam shook it. "Nice to meet you. And thanks for looking out for Dean like that – I really appreciate it," he said with genuine feeling. Pete shrugged.

"No problem. Just wish I'd seen it happening, then I could have stepped in. By the time I realised it was too late." he said.

"So, do you know who did it?" said Sam evenly.

Pete looked at him for a moment. "Why do you ask?" he said casually.

Sam thought about it and decided he might as well go with the honest answer.

"Cos it sounds like Dean was outnumbered and I wouldn't mind a few words with the guys who did it," he said, anger creeping into his voice.

Pete smiled. It'd been clear from the way Dean was so concerned about getting back to his brother earlier that they must be close, and now seeing Sam's anger and obvious protectiveness it was apparent he'd been right.

"Well, I reckon I can understand that well enough. Truth is the fellas that did this are a nasty bunch. There's five of him, hang round together in some sort of 'gang'. Act like tough guys but basically they're just bullies. The ring leader's daddy is Sheriff so they know no one will stand up against them. Anyone does and it just 'goes away' if you catch my drift. Anyways, they were in here tonight and they were hassling young Hayley. Now she's no shrinking violet, she's worked here for the last year so she's used to the usual banter that you get in a bar. But this was out of order. I'd already warned 'em once myself when they pushed their luck and started getting a little too free with their hands, if you know what I mean. Your brother stepped in and told them to knock it off. Jimmy – that's the ringleader – he took offence to that and your brother laid him out. One punch, man. It was a sight to behold it really was. And believe me, there was more than one person in here applauding him for doing it. Course young Jimmy didn't like being humiliated like that in front of everyone, but I threw them out before it could escalate. I don't care who his daddy is, this is my bar. I guess they must have waited around for him, cos next thing I know young Hayley comes running back in just as I was closing up saying they were kicking the crap out of your brother. They took off when they saw me coming and the rest I told you. I sent Hayley home – she was pretty shook up by the whole thing. I think your brother's got a fan there though, she was real worried about him." he said with a grin.

Sam's lips twitched a little at that himself, but mostly he was too furious to see the amusing side of Dean having gained the waitress's undying affection. The idea of Dean doing the right thing and then being beaten half to death because of it made Sam see red. It wasn't often that he got the urge to resort to violence but he was getting it right now. He was feeling guilty too, that he hadn't been there to help Dean out. Especially when he'd been sat in their room berating Dean for being late and not calling. And his blood ran cold when he thought of what could have happened if Pete hadn't come along when he did. It only took one unlucky punch or kick to the head and..

Sam shook his head, trying to rid himself of images of Dean lying there lifeless covered in his own blood.

"So would you know where Jimmy and his pals hang out?" said Sam and Pete nodded.

"Yeah, as it happens I do. They usually go to the park in town after closing time. Carry on drinking and generally behaving like asses until they pass out or stagger home."

"And this park would be?"

"Head down the road to your right, keep going till you get to a set of traffic lights and turn left. It's just down there on the right." said Pete.

Sam smiled at him. "Thanks – and thanks again for looking out for Dean before," he said.

Pete shook his head. "Just glad I could help. You watch yourself now, ok? I don't want to hear you ended up in the hospital too. I don't think your brother would thank me for that," he said and Sam shook his head.

"Don't worry, I'll be careful." he said.

Pete walked him to the door, unlocking it again so Sam could leave.

"You boys come back before you leave now," he said. "Drinks will be on the house."

"That's nice of you, thanks," said Sam as he headed over to the Impala. Looking at his watch he saw it was coming up to 2.30am. Hoping that Dean would be sleeping still thanks to the combination of concussion and the painkillers he'd taken, Sam started the engine and headed in the direction of the park.

It didn't take more than 5 minutes to reach it. Switching off the Impala's engine he opened the door. He knew straight away that his luck was good for once, as he could hear even from there the shouts and laughter of people who were a) very drunk and b) having a very good time. Sam smiled, but there was no humour in it. These guys wouldn't be having a good time for much longer.

Strolling casually across the darkened park, as if he often went for a walk at this hour of the morning, he saw a large fountain in the distance. Sure enough gathered round it were five guys, all laughing and drinking from a bottle that was being passed round at great speed. From the number of empty bottles already lying on the ground, Sam guessed they had to be pretty wasted by now. Which was fine by him. He was after all outnumbered and he wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

"Hey guys – having fun?" he called out as he got nearer.

Five heads swivelled drunkenly to look at him. One of the larger guys got up from where he was sitting on the edge of the fountain. He had the beginnings of fantastic black eye and Sam realised this was most likely the infamous Jimmy.

"What's it to you?" he said, slurring his words slightly and clearly trying to adopt an air of menacing that might have been more convincing if he hadn't been swaying slightly as he stood there.

Sam shrugged. "Nothing really. I was just wondering where you happened to get that shiner? Man, that's gonna be a beauty come morning," said Sam with a cold grin.

Jimmy sneered. "Just a run in with some punk who got a lucky shot. We showed him though, right boys?" he said. There was a drunken chorus of 'yeah' and some back slapping from the other guys. Unfortunately for them they were either too wasted or too stupid, or maybe even both, to notice the dangerous glint in Sam's eyes as he took his hands out of his pockets. They never even saw the first shot coming.

Five minutes later Sam was surrounded by groaning bodies. He didn't normally like violence, in fact he avoided it if at all possible unlike Dean who seemed at times to enjoy a good fight. But just because he didn't fight very often, didn't mean he couldn't. Their father, and to a greater extent Dean himself, had taught him well. It was almost too easy in fact, between the element of surprise and the effects of the alcohol they'd been consuming all night all it had taken was a few well aimed punches to take them all down. Sam almost wanted to carry on now they were on the floor, but he stopped himself. He wasn't that guy. Still, it was grimly satisfying surveying his work nonetheless. Grabbing Jimmy by his jacket and dragging him up so he was inches away from his face, Sam smiled that cold, feral smile again.

"Just in case you were wondering why this happened – that so called punk you said gave you the black eye? That was my brother. And this is for what you low-life cowards did to him outside the bar."

Jimmy blinked at him. If he'd had any sense of self-preservation he'd have taken one look at Sam's face and shut up, but clearly he'd been at the back of the queue the day the brains were handed out.

"Hey, man – he started it. Shouldn't have hit me like that. No one hits me and gets away with it," he slurred defiantly.

Sam raised his eyebrows. "Really? Cos I seem to recall I just hit you quite a few times and I seem to still be here. Now you listen to me – you stay away from that bar, and you leave Hayley alone."

Dropping Jimmy back on the ground like he was contaminated, Sam stood up again. As he stood there looking down at them, an idea came to mind. He grinned to himself.

"Alright, listen up boys. Get undressed."

They all looked up at him, blinking in confusion.

"What the hell are you talking about?" said one of them, shrinking a little when Sam turned his gaze on him.

"It's pretty self explanatory. Take Your Clothes Off. Not a hard concept, is it? Jackets, t-shirts, jeans and shoes. Now." said Sam in a tone of voice that told them refusing would not be a good life choice.

Reluctantly they began to undress, all except Jimmy. He glared at Sam.

"What you gonna do if we don't?" he snarled.

Sam gave him a faint smile. "Well, I happen to have a pretty big knife in my car over there. I could go fetch it if you want?"

Jimmy debated for a second, but something about Sam's demeanour told him he wasn't kidding. Still glaring, he nonetheless started undressing like the others.

Once they were all stood there in their underwear, Sam told them to get in the fountain. Minutes later Sam was driving away with a back seat full of clothes and a photograph on his phone that was quite possibly gonna be the new screensaver for their laptop. Stopping outside the local store he dumped the clothes in the trash can and made a quick 911 call to the Sheriff, reporting a group of young lads indulging in 'lewd behaviour' in the local park. He passed the Sheriff's car on the way back to the Motel and couldn't help chuckling to himself. He'd have paid money to see the look on his face when he found his beloved son and his pals, half naked in the fountain.

Pulling up outside their room, he quietly let himself in. Putting on the bathroom light so he could see Dean a little more clearly, he sat on his brother's bed. Dean had shifted so he was lying on his back, his face creased with pain even though he was sleeping. Any slight guilt Sam may have felt over his actions disappeared as he took in the bruises on Dean's face again. In fact it made him wish he'd done more.

Knowing the drill with concussions, he gently shook Dean being careful to avoid his bruised shoulder.

"Dean. Come on, I need you to wake up for me for a minute," he said softly.

Dean shifted and muttered slightly. Sam shook a little harder and Dean tried to push Sam's hand away.

"Go 'way!" he mumbled, sounding annoyed.

Sam smiled to himself. "I'll leave you alone in a minute Dean, but I need you to wake up for a second first ok?" he said.

More grumbling followed but eventually Dean opened his eyes and blinked blearily at Sam.


"Yeah. Can you tell me who you are and where you are?" said Sam.

Dean would have rolled his eyes if it weren't for the fact it felt like they might fall out if he did that.

"For crying out loud, Sam." he muttered. "My name is Dean Winchester, you are my pain in the ass brother Sam Winchester and we are stuck in some crappy Motel in the middle of no-wheres-ville, USA. Now go away, and if you wake me up again I WILL shoot you."

Sam snorted. "You could try but the guns are still in the car," he said mildly.

"Fine – then I'll make a note to shoot you later." Dean grumbled, pulling the blanket up over his head.

Satisfied that Dean was his usual charming self, Sam switched off the bathroom light and got back into his own bed.

When Dean next woke it was daylight. He turned over and groaned as his whole body protested the movement. Guess it wasn't a bad dream he thought as he tried to work up the energy to get out of bed. He could hear Sam moving about in the bathroom and a glance at his watch told him it was a little after 8am.

Sitting up made the room spin a little but it quickly righted itself. At that moment Sam came out of the bathroom and he smiled when he saw Dean was awake.

"Hey – how you feeling?" he said.

Dean just shot him a look. "Terrific." he said, the word dripping with sarcasm. Getting up he grabbed his clothes and went into the now empty bathroom. By the time he came out, feeling a little more human, Sam was already dressed and looking at something on the laptop. Whatever it was made him laugh, but as Dean came into the room he shut it down. Dean frowned, wondering what his brother was up to now.

"So, you feel like some breakfast?" said Sam innocently.

"Sure, why not," said Dean. Maybe food would make his stomach feel a little less like he was on a roller coaster ride.

There was a diner next to the Motel, so they made their way across to that. Sam hovered far too close for Dean's liking and he was tempted to walk faster, except his body told him that would be a really bad idea right now. Settling for shooting Sam evil looks as he grabbed the door first and then made sure Dean was sitting comfortably before sitting down himself, Dean took one of the menus and tried to think of something he actually wanted right now.

Sam was busy looking at his own menu, and so didn't see Dean's gaze turn quizzical as he caught sight of Sam's hands. First he knew of the scrutiny was when Dean suddenly grabbed his right hand and pulled it across the table.

"Hey!" he said with surprise. Dean just stared at his hand for a moment and then looked up at Sam with his eyebrows raised.

"Wanna tell me how that happened Sammy?" he said.

Sam looked down and realised Dean was referring to his scraped and bruised knuckles. He hadn't really noticed the damage until now, and he winced slightly. He was hoping to get Dean in a better mood before he told him what he'd done. Looking up he saw Dean was still waiting and decided he might as well get it over with.

"It's no big deal, Dean." he said, echoing his brother's words from the night before. "Just had a run in with those guys you met at the bar, that's all."

Dean's eyebrows actually managed to get higher. Sam was impressed.

"A run in? What the hell do you mean, a run in? When? And how do you know who I met at the bar anyway?" Dean demanded.

Sam sighed. "Look, I needed to know what happened ok? I knew you'd never give me the whole story, so after you fell asleep I went to the bar and talked to Pete. He told me what happened, and he told me where I could find Jimmy and his pals. So I tracked them down, we had an 'exchange of views', and I came back to the Motel. End of story." he said calmly.

"End of story? What where you thinking Sam, going after them by yourself? In case you didn't notice there were five of them! Did my face not tell you anything?" said Dean.

"What was I supposed to do? Let them get away with it? No way, Dean – not after what they did to you! Besides, by the time I found them they were wasted. I barely even broke a sweat, trust me," he said.

Dean shook his head. "And that's supposed to make me feel better? You could have got yourself killed Sam!"

"Yeah, and so could you! If Pete hadn't come outside when he did they could have finished what they started, Dean! Do you have any idea how I felt, knowing I was tucked up safe in our Motel room while you were getting the crap kicked out of you?" said Sam, his voice rising.

Dean's gaze softened a little as he saw the combination of fear and worry in Sam's face. He could imagine exactly how he felt – the same way Dean felt now, knowing his little brother had gone after the guys who'd done this to him on his own.

Sighing and making a concerted effort not to turn this into a blazing row, Dean shook his head.

"It wasn't your fault, Sam. It was just bad luck, that's all. Those jerks were spoiling for a fight and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'd have taken them all out if it weren't for my shoulder being stiff already and the minor fact of being outnumbered 5 to 1." said Dean with disgust. "I appreciate you wanting revenge on my behalf, but you shouldn't have gone after them on your own – you could have gotten hurt."

Sam shrugged. "I know. But I couldn't sit back and do nothing. When Pete said he knew where they'd be, I just had to do it." he said quietly.

Dean shot him a grin. "I thought you always said violence didn't solve anything?" he teased.

Sam had the grace to blush a little "Yeah, well. What can I say? I'm a Winchester after all. It was just, seeing the state of you and hearing from Pete what they'd done – I just saw red." he confessed.

It was Dean's turn to blush a little now. He wasn't used to other people fighting his battles for him, but hearing the protectiveness in Sam's voice and listening to how his brother's first instinct had been to take on the guys that had hurt him.. He had to admit it wasn't exactly a bad feeling. In fact it went so far as to ease some of the throbbing in his head right now.

Not that there was any need to admit that out loud.

"Well, it doesn't change the fact that you shouldn't have gone out there without anyone to watch your back. But thanks, I guess." he said awkwardly.

Sam smiled. "You're welcome." he said.

Aware they were straying uncomfortably close to an Oprah moment, Dean cleared his throat and went back to perusing his menu. Sam did the same. A few minutes later the waitress had taken their order and they were both nursing a cup of actual coffee, for a change.

Dean seemed to be thinking about something and Sam frowned at him.


"Nothing. Just.. Did you really kick their asses?" he said, a little disbelievingly.

Sam rolled his eyes. "I'm not completely helpless you know. You and Dad did teach me how to take care of myself, Dean. I wish you'd remember sometimes that I'm not a little kid who needs looking after all the time." he said, echoing the same argument they'd had over and over again since Sam had been old enough to join in the hunts.

Dean held his hands up. "Hey, I never said you were helpless, Princess. Keep your hair on," he said with a smirk.

Sam glared at him. "Cute, Dean. But in answer to your question, yes – I kicked their asses. Although like I said it was almost too easy. They were so far gone they were nearly on the floor anyway, and I did have the element of surprise."

"That's true. Sure as hell no one looking at you would think you could fight worth a damn," said Dean dryly. He winced as Sam's foot connected with his shin.

"Hey! No kicking the guy with the bruises!" he said indignantly.

At that moment their food arrived, and Dean found he actually felt quite hungry. By the time they'd both finished the throbbing in his head had receded to a dull ache and he was feeling almost normal again. Leaning back and sipping his coffee he saw Sam had a smirk on his face, like he was contemplating something amusing.

"What?" he said, wondering if he had food on his face.

Sam jumped a little and looked up at him. It took him a moment to realise what Dean was referring to, and then he grinned.

"Want to see something funny?" he said.


Getting his phone out of his pocket, Sam pressed a few buttons and then handed it over to Dean. At first his brother just stared at it, eyebrows raised. Then he began to chuckle. Which became full on laughter. Seconds later both of them were doubled over the table in hysterics, not caring what the other people in the diner thought of them. Dean clutched his ribs but he couldn't stop. Every time he almost got a hold of himself, he would catch sight of the photo again and dissolve into fits. Or he'd catch Sam's eye and Sam would start giggling, and that was just as bad. And seriously, no 23 year old guy should actually giggle, but damn if that wasn't making it worse.

In the end they were both leaning back against the booth, wiping away tears. Dean gasped as he clutched his ribs and groaned.

"Damn, Sammy! You couldn't have waited until my ribs were better?"

Sam grinned. "Sorry. I just thought you might appreciate it. I don't suppose the Sheriff found it quite as funny though when he got there," he said.

Dean raised his eyebrows. "The Sheriff?"

"Yep. Jimmy's father. He may have had an anonymous tip off about lewd behaviour in the park," said Sam feigning innocence.

Dean shook his head. "Remind me not to piss you off," he said.

As they finished their coffee, Sam reflected that maybe their stay hadn't been a total disaster. He was still mad as hell at what had happened to Dean, but he was pleased he'd finally been able to be the one standing up for his brother for once. And maybe it wouldn't do Dean any harm to realise that he didn't always have to be the one doing the protecting. And that photo had given them the best laugh they'd had in ages. Definitely gonna be their screensaver for a while, he thought.

Dean was feeling pretty good too. Much as he ached like hell, he did feel better having heard Sam's tale of the revenge meted out on his behalf. And although it was a surprise, the level of anger his attack had stirred up in Sam, it was a pleasant one. It was nice to be on the receiving end of some protection, just for once. Not that he was letting Sam make a habit of it. He was still the older brother and he wasn't about to let him forget that.

Still. That photo was almost worth the aches and pains. Maybe they could get t-shirts made?

Chuckling to himself, he looked up to find Sam watching him with a look of fond amusement. Dean rolled his eyes, but found himself smiling back. Raising his mug, he saluted Sam.

"To Winchester justice." he said and Sam shook his head, but reached out and clinked his own mug against Dean's.

"To Winchester justice." he echoed.

Maybe they didn't have what other people had, but maybe they had something better than that - each other. And sometimes, that was all you needed.

That, and a mean right hook of course.. And a camera phone to capture the results.

Winchester justice indeed.